Wise Words is our interview series talking to some of mountain biking’s most switched on people.
We’ll ask our short list of questions to a heap of influential, inspiring and outspoken people that we feel are driving the direction of mountain biking today. Some will make you think, some will make you laugh, some will be plain dumb, some will inspire you to better yourself and your riding. We hope!
Wise Words this week come to you from none other than Mr. Olly Morris.
An Elite downhill racer in his own right, Olly Morris has also transferred his skills on the bike into helping others get the most from their riding. Riding coach to the stars of the MS Mondraker team as well as to everyone else via Pro Ride MTB Coaching.
Photos by Nathan Hughes.
How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?
Competitive, energetic and always wants to learn, improve or figure something new out with the bike or how we ride it. Always smiling and helping others when out on the bike.
What thing or things have you bought in the last year that had the biggest effect on your life as a mountain biker / cyclist / person that works in the bike industry?
An ebike. To be honest I have had one for about 4 years and they totally enhanced my riding and my coaching. Thinking above all the ‘they make you fat’ conversations, I am looking at them as a performance tool.
As a gravity rider, I now get way more gravity riding which improved my skills. I also use them as part of Laurie Greenland’s training. Doing DH runs on the bike he doesn’t race on can help him focus more on his approach instead of how the bike is setup. We can also get to more technical DH trails on the ebike than the DH bike as some tech tracks don’t have uplift. I also notice when new riders get ebikes, their skills improve a lot quicker. As long as they are used responsibly.
What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?
I am not sure if this is a habit but I like to ride with purpose, it doesn’t matter if the purpose is, socialising, relaxation, racing, to test, to learn… whatever it is, I just like to have purpose.
What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?
Learning is never done. People think learning is binary, you couldn’t do something and now you can do something. It doesn’t work like that, learning should be seen as a spectrum and as you build new awareness of something, you can improve ability in it. It’s this attitude that the most talented riders (and people) in the world have. This has to be the most common conversation between myself and other Pro Ride coaches.
The advice they should ignore is that everything needs measuring. In this modern era we have easier access to data, heart rate, pedal cadence, suspension data, distance, the list goes on. All of this info can either be useful or fun but sometimes if just takes away from the thing you like doing….riding bikes. I love measuring the right thing for what I am doing but it does seem like we measure things ‘because we can’ rather than because we need to.
If you could go back and re-ride one day from your life so far, where/what/when/who would it be? Would you change anything?
Fort William World Cup 2019. It was my first World Cup in the UK and the atmosphere was incredible. I was doing the thing I love most about riding and that was between the tapes. I came about 90th place and it didn’t bother me as I was getting what I wanted out of the sport.
What have you wasted the most time on in your life as a rider or bike industry career that you wished you’d given up years ago?
I don’t tend to regret to be honest. I feel the things I have done in my life have formed who I am today so see them all as helpful in my progression.
How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?
I think anyone who knows me will know I never lack motivation to ride. Usually quite the opposite. However, I do get asked how to stay motivated and this is simple, you need to have long term goals as well as more than one reason to do the sport. For example, people think as a racer that I am only chasing results…whilst it is true I am chasing results, I am also chasing the feeling I get at races, as well as keeping fit and healthy from the training I do for racing and the opportunity I get to travel.
What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?
The feeling of freedom. What I mean by freedom is the complete release of any thought and the effortless feeling of speed.
What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?
Generally nothing, similar to my no regrets comment. However, some industry ‘innovations’ do need checking in on by riders before they go to mass market. I see some parts slipping through the net that as a rider simply don’t work or make sense in reality. The more the industry can listen to riders the better.
What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?
The growth of cycling to carry on without forgetting our roots. Our sport is clearly going to keep growing and that is only a good thing. What I want to happen is for us to keep remembering where we came from.
For example, keep the rawness of bike riding, our sport is about having fun riding bikes and not all about fashion.
Yes its cool having the latest kit and bikes, but lets keep it real when it comes to marketing. Lets sponsor raw and real riders with genuine passion and dedication.
Who else should we ask these questions to?
Rob Warner, Andy Lund.
You can keep tabs on Olly’s adventures on his Instagram feed here.
You can catch all our previous Wise Words interviews with the likes of Sven Martin, Manon Carpenter, Ric McLaughlin and plenty more here.